For a very long time I have wanted to do something to raise awareness that Domestic Abuse is not just physical.

“Isn’t it when a guy beats up his wife?”

NOOOOoooooo!!!! That is NOT the definition of Domestic Abuse, or Domestic Violence (as it is also known).

Al the images we see of a bruised woman cowering as a close-fisted male stands over her are depicting only ONE of EIGHT forms of abuse!

And to be honest – I was one of those people who used to think the same way. Even as a student of Psychology and Counselling – Domestic Violence was not a subject that was taught (see below for a description of what Domestic Abuse is*).

It wasn’t until several years ago that my own misconceptions were corrected and I began to realise that Domestic Abuse is actually a whole range of destructive behaviours designed to control and disempower the person it is happening to.

I have counselled many people, mainly women, who have never once been touched by their partner but who are completely and utterly being abused.

And I have to say – every one of those women – without fail – tell me that the verbal abuse is by FAR more damaging than anything else.

So it was with great excitement that I grabbed the recent opportunity to write a TV Commercial to raise awareness of the impact of Verbal Abuse. (Before I was in the Mental Health Field I worked in the Ad Industry as a copywriter – so I’ve had no shortage of ideas on how the ad could look).

It came to pass because I am on the board of a newly established Foundation in the Hills Shire called The Lisa Harnum Foundation – Freedom from Domestic Abuse (named in honour of the poor young woman who was thrown to her death by her fiance in 2011 when she attempted to flee the relationship).

Our goal is to establish a cottage in the Hills Shire that will provide information, resources, counselling and support for women who are in an abusive relationship and who need help to know what to do next.

But we need to raise both awareness and money. And thanks to my husband’s connections in the ad industry (special thanks to the guys at StoryHead www.storyhead.com.au), we have been able to produce the ad.

So here is hoping that we achieve both goals – firstly to shatter the myth that Domestic Abuse is only physical, and secondly to raise enough money that we can open The Lisa Harnum Foundation Cottage ASAP!!

For more info on Lisa Harnum Foundation go to www.lisahf.org.au

*Domestic Abuse refers to a situation where one person attempts to maintain power and control of another person using a range of tactics. Physical Abuse is just one. Many abusers control their partners without ever laying a hand on them. Other tactics include:

Emotional Abuse: criticism, pressuring, demeaning comments, mocking, belittling, manipulating, falsely accusing, using anger and rage to create fear and to intimidate, slandering, stone-walling, sulking.

Verbal Abuse: name-calling, swearing, put-downs, threats.

Psychological: Re-writing history, crazy-making, undermining the victims memory of past events or arguments.

Social Abuse: monitoring emails or texts, attempting to isolate from family and or friends, putting down family or friends, being possessive and jealous, dictating what victim must wear, timing victim, stalking.

Financial Abuse: making victim account for spending, depriving victim of access to bank accounts, threatening to cut victim off financially if they leave the relationship.

Sexual Abuse: demanding sex, pressuring victim to do unwanted sexual acts or view unwanted sexual material, making degrading comments about the victims sexual performance, becoming angry if victim does not provide sex.

Spiritual Abuse: Putting down victim’s faith, attempting to use scripture to control or dominate, claiming that God supports the right to dominate.

Physical: using physical strength to intimidate and put fear into victim but without actually touching the victim, ie: standing over, punching walls, smashing items, kicking animals or furniture, slamming doors, getting up in the victims face.

What to do if in danger: If you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, please reach out. You can call me to make an appointment – or alternatively I can refer you on to some other services in the area.

If you or someone you know is in imminent danger please call 000.

Or, if you have an iPhone download the new app (created by The Lisa Harnum Foundation) called Buzz News. It is a cleverly disguised news app that allows you to hide your trusted contacts inside it so that you call swiftly alert them if you are in trouble.